ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) – With Thanksgiving a few days away, you’ll probably be doing some food shopping, but did you ever wonder what happens to the food you don’t buy? The food nobody buys? There’s a new push to try to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

“Almost 40% of our trash by weight and more than 22% by volume is food waste,” explained Deputy Commissioner Michael Sullivan of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “That’s food that’s been discarded by all of us.”

That is why two federal agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United State Department of Agriculture, announced a $100,000 grant to a nonprofit called the Center for EcoTechnology. The CET helps businesses do what Big Y supermarkets already do. When food in the store gets a little older or a little browner, but it is still fine to eat, Big Y donates it to food pantries. Just this morning, a load of baked goods got picked up by the chef at the St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen in Middletown.

Supermarkets also end up with food that cannot be eaten. That food is still good for something, however. Big Y has bins of food to be turned into compost, which will help grow more food in the future. Old food can also be turned into energy or fed to animals. The worst thing is for it to end up in a landfill. The Center for EcoTechnologies will use its new grant to help 20 companies avoid the landfill route.

“To turn those into real economic opportunities whether it be energy generation or making food more accessible for those who currently don’t have access to it,” explained State Director of the USDA Scott Soares.

To help the rest of us from wasting food, Senator Richard Blumenthal is pushing for federal legislation to create different labels for “best by” and “expired,” so we better understand when food should be discarded. Until we get those labels sorted out, there is something you can do to reduce food waste: Only buy what you are actually going to use. Food left in the store might find a better use than your garbage can.